Disabled children and their carers “being failed” – Newry MLA

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Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty has claimed that young people with disabilities and their carers are being failed by the lack of an Executive and Health Minister.

McNulty was speaking after separate meetings with the Health and Social Care Board and the Southern Trust this week to discuss pressures on Short Break/Respite Services. 

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Speaking to Newry Times, McNulty said, “Families and carers who depend on the short break/respite services across Northern Ireland are at breaking point. 



“They just don’t know where to turn to next. They are asking the same questions of the Health and Social Care Board time and time again, and, despite their patience and persistence in airing their dismay, we seem to be no further forward.

“Respite care is essential for the young people involved, their carers and their wider families. What tends to happen is they have respite booked months in advance, and when it is then cancelled or postponed indefinitely, it causes both the children and their families huge distress.

“Over recent years I have met, written to, and lobbied everyone from the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, Departmental Officials, Trust Officials and Board Officials. 



“Everyone recognises the problem, everyone wants to create solutions, but there is now recognition that fundamental blockage in the system is the lack of a Health Minister. The bottom line is, young people with disabilities and their carers are being failed by the lack of an Executive and Health Minister,” he insisted.

“Some parents are exasperated and are at their wit’s end with this situation.

“Their health, their families’ and their children’s health is being adversely impacted. It is not acceptable that we seem to be hitting brick wall after brick wall. It is really sad to sit in meetings where parents are on the point of breakdown and are pleading for help and for action.”



“I have asked the Permanent Secretary to relook at this case to examine what can be done as an interim measure.

“This isn’t just about respite or short break services, it’s also about the mental and physical wellbeing of those who care for children with complex needs. 

The local MLA added, “Something has to be done and an approach that is needs-led must be to be adopted.”



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